Climate report: Hottest year, highest greenhouse gas marks, record sea levels

Saturday, 12 Aug, 2017

Numerous findings have been previously released, including that 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third consecutive year.

The draft report makes clear the depth and breadth of the evidence for how and why the climate is being disrupted.

Below are some highlights [PDF] from the publication released by NOAA. The recent El Niño, for example, contributed to making 2015 and 2016 the warmest years on record.

Reportedly, 2016's heat - the highest in 137 years - came from a combination of a warming trend caused by human-induced greenhouse gas emissions and the El Niño weather pattern.

Every two to seven years the weather phenomena returns as a result of interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere, forcing global temperatures to rise and result in extreme rain and wind.

Another thing Urban's meta-analysis clearly shows, is that there is a large variation in studies assessing extinction risk under anthropogenic climate change, "depending on the specific assumptions and geographic and taxonomic focus of each study".

"The major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet", said the report, which was edited by Jessica Blunden and Derek S. Arndt of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Walsh said, whatever fears scientists might have, he's seen no political interference in the report to date. Arndt, who has been working on the NOAA annual report for eight years, said it includes the "same general material", and underwent the "same general process". Katharine Hayhoe, a university scientist who worked on the report and was quoted in the article, was asked by the BBC whether she had leaked it to the Times. NOAA releases monthly data, too. She responded, "I said, NO - why bother?"

All the major greenhouse gases that drive warming, including carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide, rose to new heights, it said. Even though the increase is essentially negligible, the scientists warn that without major reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions, the temperature in the US will rise almost nine degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. Record-high temperatures were measured below the surface of the permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, across the North Slope of Alaska.

- Sea levels are the highest they've ever been since recordkeeping began. "The rate of warming and the rate of sea level rise in the global oceans are both accelerating".

- Precipitation cycles are becoming more extreme. Those warm waters were linked to the smallest annual winter peak in sea ice levels and the second lowest annual minimum.

When this dependency is taken into account, the likelihood of these three consecutive record-breaking years occurring since 1880 is about 0.03 percent in the absence of human-caused climate change. Glaciers shrunk an average of 2.8 feet. While temperatures in the country (excluding Alaska and Hawaii) have increased an average of 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900, the Southwest and the Northwest, as well as the Northern Great Plains, have seen a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees or more.